Thursday, February 2, 2012

ESPN's Whacked-Out, Completely Non-Sensical Priorities

                Okay, so I’ll be the first one to admit that I watch ESPN almost every day.  I don’t watch a lot of it.  I usually come home from work and watch about fifteen minutes of PTI or Around the Horn, maybe a little SportsCenter.  I watch considerably more ESPN in the heat of football season because there’s a wider variety of topics for them to discuss.  Right now, however, it’s nothing but Tom Brady, Eli Manning, Peyton Manning, Rob Gronkowski’s ankle, Lebron James’ hairline...  I mean seriously, they made a 10 minute story out of Bill Belichick simulating the 31-minute Super Bowl halftime period during practice today.  They debated the sheer “genius” behind the move.  Genius?  Really?  The late Steve Jobs might have something to say about that no-brainer.
                I digress.  I read an interesting article from DeadSpin.Com about ESPN called “BristolMetrics.”  From January 7th until January 18th they broke down SportsCenter on a minute by minute, word by word basis, in order to analyze the program's focus.  The results were pretty astounding.
                The first thing that stuck out to me was just how much ESPN fixates on a particular individual or topic.  They did it with Brett Favre last year,and the year before that and the year before that... Thank god that’s over.  Last month’s flavor (it was a couple of months, really) was Tim Tebow. 
According to DeadSpin, out of a week’s worth of SportsCenter transcripts, Tim Tebow was the most mentioned athlete, getting 154 mentions.  His name was used more than the words “did,” “been,” “then” and “your.”  Talk about fixating - that’s simply insane.
                The most covered team according to DeadSpin was the New York Giants, who received 53 minutes of coverage over the week.  That may not seem like a lot just reading it, but considering how quickly SportsCenter changes from subject to subject, that’s a lot of dead air to fill with one team.  Second to the G-Men was the Miami Heat, who received 20.5 minutes of coverage.  They love to talk about dream teams, so the fact that the Giants received 33 more minutes of talk than the Heat is true evidence of east coast bias.
                What surprised me most (although it really shouldn’t surprise me) is that of all the sports covered on SportsCenter, hockey is covered the least.  Obviously, in the heat of the NFL playoffs, football got the most coverage at 225 minutes (a little over 40%).  The second place sport was NBA basketball, getting a little over 106 minutes of face time.
But hockey?  It pulled into the finish line at a whopping 2.4% - That’s 13 minutes a week.  The category “other sports” got more coverage on ESPN than hockey, with 3.2%.  That means that ESPN spent more time talking about tennis, or bowling, or women’s professional soccer than they did covering the NHL – IN THE MIDDLE OF ITS REGULAR SEASON.
                I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – ESPN sets the agenda for the sports that we as consumers, well, consume.  If ESPN is interested in covering it, then we will end up watching it.  ESPN only covers it if they have something to gain monetarily.  NFL’s crown jewel, Monday Night Football?  ESPN.  NBA?  ESPN.  College Basketball?  ESPN.  Women’s World Cup?  ESPN.
                In other words, hockey still sits at the kid's table because they’re contracted with NBC, who plays second fiddle to the Mothership.  Because of this, hockey gets swept under the rug not only during the regular season but even during the playoffs.  That’s really pretty sad.  It’s one of the most exciting sports with some of the most spectacular athletes in the world.
But don’t bother watching it, it’s not that great.  Really, just trust us on that one.
We now return you to Skip Bayless arguing with Damien Woody about Tim Tebow’s throwing motion.

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